In the first episode of The Selling Local Podcast, Tyler speaks with Skylar Jones. She is a leasing representative at Kimco Realty.
Based out of the Baltimore area, she’s amassed a knowledge of wealth and an understanding of leasing retail spaces to local business owners. In this episode, they talk about one of her favorite local businesses she’s sold to, her outlook on nurturing relationships as a professional, and even some of her favorite local businesses and restaurants!
Selling To A Local Business
Tyler: So just to jump right into it, could you share with the audience a story of how you were able to successfully connect and ultimately sell to a local business?
Skylar: I had the pleasure of meeting a local business owner in Kentland's market square shopping center, which actually happens to be in my backyard in Gaithersburg, Maryland.
I met a woman who actually did a deal with Kimco through our specialty leasing program. And so she was kind of in the back of the shopping center and was a little bit hidden, and she was on a month-to-month basis. But we were really passionate about keeping her in the shopping center because we felt like her business told a story, and we felt like she really connected with the community. We named her the mayor of Kentland because everyone in the shopping center knows her! I felt really passionate about helping her find the perfect space.
She and I connected because of my background in the community and hers. But one thing that I really loved about her was how adamant she was about this one particular space in the shopping center. We wanted to originally put her in a second apparel store. And we had some new spaces in our Paseo area that were newly developed, and it was just like a White Vanilla Box. As soon as she walked into that space when we toured she was like, "This is it. This feels right." And I was like, "Are you sure? You sure you don't want the other space on market street?" And she was like, "No. this is it!"
Usually, Vanilla Boxes scare business owners, especially small business owners. She just was, like, enamored by how much of a blank canvas it was and she had her vision. So we kind of sat on it for a little bit and went back and forth. And then finally we were like, what better story to tell than to give someone who is from the community that spot, let's give her the opportunity to be at Paseo with all the other national guys and kind of bring that type of business to Kentland.
The name of her business is called My Big Finds. It's such a cool store. It's so hip. She just has the best merchandise you can find. It's not really a consignment spot, it's more Vintage materials. And she has candles, she has apparel, she has clothing, home decor, bath, and body stuff. All of it is awesome!
Balancing Being Genuine Vs. Business-Oriented
Tyler: That's so impressive! Especially how she was able to walk into that blank canvas and have a vision instead of being kind of trapped.
When you talk about how important it is to get to know these business owners and hear their stories, how do you balance that without being too transactional? When you also have to talk business, but you don't? How do you balance that in making sure to get to know someone without just being that salesperson too much?
Skylar: For me personally, I think you're more successful in sales when you are authentic and when you can create a connection with someone and build off of that. For every person that I do a deal with, I always make it my mission to meet with them and talk to them and learn about their story. And I definitely let them know when it comes to time to talk about the deal metrics and transactions.
Creating a connection is the first step to having integrity and making sure you know who you're doing business with. And also, too, once you get to know a person, when you're doing a small business deal, you can kind of tell if they're serious about it, if they have all their ducks in the row.
Jodi was very buttoned up. She had a plan. I always ask small business owners, do you have a business plan? Do you have partners? How long do you plan on keeping this location for? Do you plan on opening other locations?
So it's a mix of being an acquaintance and being a business partner, at least you want to be well acquainted with who you're doing business with, especially on the small business side.
Skylar's Sales Journey
Tyler: When you think about your experience and the arc of your career and going from working in the residential space and doing some administrative work to being the superstar closer like you are today, what assumptions did you maybe have about sales early on that you were wrong about? Or can you give any AHA moments you've had in your career?
Skylar: If you would have asked me years ago if I would be in sales, I'd be like, no, are you kidding me? When you think of sales, you think of instantly a car salesman.
I like selling things that are near and dear to people's heart, their business, their home, and something that's going to make an impact on their lives long term. And I can still help make an impact and help people essentially bring their dreams to life. And I think that's the best part about my job.
Tyler: Your passion is contagious! Whenever we speak, it's genuine like we've spoken about. And I think it's so cool to hear the stories of you impacting, not only business owners but whole families through your residential and commercial work.
I think it's a fair assumption to make that there are a lot of people you've learned from along the way and mentors along the way. Is there any particular mentor that stands out in your mind or any lesson from a mentor that stood out in your mind that helped?
Skylar: Oh, absolutely. I wouldn't be the great closer that I am without the great managers that I've had. Ashley Smith at Camden Property Trust. She was my first manager in multifamily. Kevin Allen with Kimco, my current VP.
There's a difference between a leader and a boss. A boss will tell you what to do, and you just do it. But a leader is really invested in your professional development long term. And I remember Ashley, my first manager at Camden, told me, "I'm not preparing you to just close the lease. She said, "I'm preparing you for whether you want to be in this position or not. I'm preparing you for my position one day to be a property manager. You should always be aiming to be two steps ahead of where you are now."
And all of these people have just encouraged me to further my education, to further just take advantage of any professional development opportunities that I have. Working with Kevin when I first started at Kimco he really empowered me to be a leader in my own right. And he never told me what not to do. He would ask me what I think about things and kind of tell me his perspective or what he's done. It was more of a collaboration than it was a boss-subordinate relationship, and that's something I really appreciate.
There are countless people and I'm sorry if I missed anyone in particular. If you know you know, I could write a list of people who have impacted my career in such a positive way but off the top that's those are the first people that came to mind.
Skylar's Favorite Local Restaurant
Tyler: Do you have a favorite local restaurant and what do you order?
Skylar: Tyler, I could give you a whole list on a separate episode. I have two. dLena in DC. It's an authentic tapa-style restaurant. And they have, like, Wagyu Fajitas, and after I had those I wanted to come back every single week for the rest of my life. They're a good one.
Also, Papi Cuisine is amazing. They're based out of Baltimore. We actually just did a deal with them at Kimco for our Mill Station shopping center, and they are just amazing. It hits home for me because they're a black-owned business and they do so well, their line is wrapped around the restaurant and their crab cake egg rolls are to die for.
We hope you enjoyed the first episode of The Selling Local Podcast! If you are a Local Business Owner or know a Local Business Owner that would be a perfect guest for the podcast, e-mail our Content Marketing Lead Alex @ Alex@re2.ai with the business and owner's name!